By Terri Nieser

There are so many wonderful charities in Fort Bend County, so why did I become involved in Fort Bend Cares as a volunteer, donor and former Board member?  It began with Respect: for the two gentleman who founded the organization, Dr. Robert McClendon and Jim Rice; for the many outstanding community leaders and friends who were supporters of the organization; and most importantly, for the mission of the organization –  To provide Fort Bend County community non-profits with resources to meet the needs of disadvantaged children.

Next came camaraderie for a common cause which led to true friendships, developed while volunteering on the Road Trip committee.  Nothing beats a group of dedicated, hard working women who use their skills, talents, time and laughter to create a successful, entertaining event with everyone focused on the ultimate goal of raising large amounts of money to fund as many grants as possible.  Many of the fun, energetic women of character in my life resulted from friendships formed and nurtured through volunteering with Fort Bend Cares.

But most important of all is purpose – the genuine sense of awe and appreciation for the non-profits doing incredible work in Fort Bend to help children in need in our community.  Fort Bend Cares, through our grants program, helps provide the monetary support they need to continue positively impacting these children.  We spend the time to personally visit these charities, review their financial status and discuss their plans and needs for the requested grant.  I have been incredibly fortunate to serve on the grants committee and see first-hand the amazing projects our grants have supported. Here’s a peek at a few of the grants I’ve been able to champion over the years.

Gigi’s Playhouse, serving children with Down Syndrome, partnered with Reining Strength to provide therapeutic horsemanship for their summer programs in both mounted equestrian and equine assisted activities.  Watching these beautiful children gain confidence, improve strength and balance and improve social skills through their time with the horses is truly heartwarming and inspiring.

Visiting the Edison Arts Foundation, which provides summer theater arts programs for economically disadvantaged and foster care youth in Missouri City, also brings a smile for the incredible energy and passion of their founder Charity Edison Carter.  Her mission is to present these kids with creative opportunities usually reserved for the more affluent. She is nurturing the creativity, confidence and talent of these children to furnish the skills for future success.

Hope for Three was founded to serve as an advocacy resource for families with children on the autism spectrum.  They provide information, events and funding to help with the difficult challenges these families face.  Fort Bend Cares was able to provide funding to assist with their teen huddle program, which allows respite for parents through their Parents Time Out programs and also includes a sibling mentoring program.  It is incredible to see the impact these teens have not only on the families they serve, but in their role of increasing autism awareness and acceptance among teens.

Catholic Charities has an amazing program developed to serve “Grandparents Raising Grandchildren”, which is happening in large numbers throughout Fort Bend county.  They provide resources, advice, children’s activities, educational presentations, and offer a case manager to help manage stress and financial challenges.  The children receive homework assistance and each meeting ends with a group meal to strengthen their bonds. What an incredible gift to both the grandparents and the children they are raising.

These visits and listening to the stories from the other grant team members reinforce WHY I support Fort Bend Cares with my time, abilities and financial resources.  The stories we hear both break our hearts with the immense areas of need in our community and uplift our souls through meeting the dedicated individuals and organizations committed to solving problems and being a difference maker.

By supporting Fort Bend Cares, you too can be a shining star and help us continue and expand our positive impact on our community by providing needed grants to so many of the organizations helping kids.  Won’t you join me?

Terri Nieser

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